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ShepardFairey: Street Artist+ Presented by Debra Detamore Moore Public Schools
From skateboarder to famous street artist, Shepard Fairey was named “Icon Maker” of 2008 by Time Magazine for his portrait of Barack Obama.
Up until 2008, 38-year-old Fairey was known for his rock-music album covers and an advertising campaign that featured a wrestler named Andre the Giant.
Fairey graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and went on to found a design studio which specialized in “guerrilla marketing.”
While Mr. Obama was accepting the Democratic nomination, Fairey, who had been arrested for putting posters up in an alley in Denver, got out of jail and began filming a YouTube account of his 14th arrest. He is considered America’s foremost street artist.
The multimedia collage was a symbol of the Obama political machine. The portrait is now part of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
The artist attributes the beginnings of his creative ideas to being in the skateboarding culture in South Carolina. At 14 he listened to punk- rock and saw a lot of hand made art like stencils, stickers, and drawing on t-shirts.
While in college, he was trying to teach a friend how to make a stencil, when he found a photo of Andre the Giant in a newspaper. He tried to get the friend to practice with the photo, but he wouldn’t. Fairey decided to do it himself. It turned into what he calls the “Obey Giant” series.
Fairey realized that people absorb images in public. He also thought that manipulating the press could make something even bigger. So, he began to sabotage billboards. He put a large face over that of a candidate who was running for office. Coco-cola had a billboard for a new product that looked like an underground soda. He thought that was false advertising, so he changed around all the ads. He traveled around the world putting stuff up, and subsequently ended up getting put in jail many times.
“The message with my work is: “question everything…question everything that you are bombarded with.”
Fairey’s artistic style is reminiscent of the Chinese and Russian propaganda posters of the past century.
“There’s a whole very amazingly researched and crafted art of persuasion in advertising and politics. I feel like some people just kind of walk around like zombies and they complain that things aren’t the way they want – but yet, that’s why I use the “Obey”. It really means the opposite, questioning or disobeying. “Snap out of it”
“Even with my own work I’m saying, ‘Be aware of this too, be aware of me, be aware of what I’m doing, be aware of what companies are doing.”
What kind of statement would you like to make with your art??? If you could do street art, what kind of images would you want to display?? Think of another powerful word like ‘obey’ that could be your motto for your artwork. Resources for photos and Information: www.kopenhagen.dk www.slowpainting.wordpress.com www.madamepickwickartblog.com